Tesla electric cars work on autopilot

October 16, 2015 0 By Amanda Giasson

The electric vehicle maker has released an autopilot software upgrade for its Model S sedans.

Although it has yet to create fully autonomous electric cars, Tesla Motors has taken one step closer toward reaching this goal by releasing an autopilot software upgrade for its Model S electric vehicles (EVs), making these cars the first on the road to be equipped with autonomous driving capabilities.

The cars will be able to steer themselves along highways and park on command, among other features.

Activating the autopilot mode on the highway will help to steer the car and keep it in the lane. When the driver turns on the car’s signal, the autopilot will automatically change lanes for the driver when it is safe to do so. The system will also sweep the streets for parking spaces to detect open spots and, when one is located, the car’s Autopark system will control speed and steering to help you parallel park.

The new autopilot software will benefit Tesla electric cars that feature forward-facing cameras, forward-detecting radar, ultrasonic sensors, and high-precision digital maps.

The autopilot system in the electric cars will improve and “learn” over time.

According to Tesla Motor’s CEO Elon Musk, “the system learns over time.” Musk explained that “the whole Tesla fleet operates as a network. When one car learns something, the whole fleet learns.” The autopilot data from every Model S will be uploaded into a central network. This network will continually adjust the software’s performance and instructions to keep improving. For instance, while the autopilot won’t steer the car properly in a certain scenario one week, the following week, based on the collected data, it will.

The new software upgrade applies to Tesla’s line of Model S Sedans that have autonomous capability and is available for both new vehicles and those that have already been purchased. Musk also said in a conference that the software will be included in the new Model X SUV, as well.

The software for Tesla’s Model S electric cars takes only one night to install and is currently available to North American customers. Tesla expects to make the upgrade available to its European and Asian customers within a week.